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Nickname Caesar

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

Roman names consisted of three parts. Name (praenomen), family name (nomen gentile) and nickname (cognomen, usually also hereditary).

Interesting is the genesis of the nickname Gaius Julius Caesar. There is a supposition that he comes from an unnatural method of childbirth, known as Caesarean section. Pliny the Elder says that in this way the future dictator was to come into the world. However, against that is the fact that his mother – Aurelia Cotta died only in 54 BCE, while in ancient Rome the law allowed Caesarean section to be carried out only on a dead woman who was pregnant. It is also worth mentioning that these cognomen also bore the ancestors of the dictator; the family of Julius Caesar appears in preserved sources from the third century BCE.

According to Stefan Weinstock, the nickname really took its origin from the way of coming to the world through the Caesarean section. In this way, the ancestors of Julius Caesar, were born who lived in the third century BCE or earlier and due to the frequent recurrence of this phenomenon in the family of Iulii, he could have received the nickname of Caesars.

There is also a version saying that the nickname came from the word CAESARIES, which was used to describe thick hair. As Caesar had rather problems with baldness, it may seem that it was his ancestors from the family, who could get such a nickname, because of their “hair”.

There is also an opinion that the nickname may come from the Punic term for an elephant (caesai) that an ancestor of Julius Caesar could have killed during the Second Punic War1.

Author: Damian Sideł
  1. Sentence added by the author of the website based on: Simon Elliott, Julius Caesar. Rome's greatest warlord
  • Stefen Weinstock, Divus Julius, Oxford 1971

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